The San Francisco 49ers are seeing several players depart for greener pastures in free agency, and while it is hard to see guys leave, there is value still to be had. Hurray for comp picks!
Compensation picks are awarded to teams based on the gains and losses they have in free agency. The NFL does not reveal the comp pick formula, but a few people have done yeoman's work projecting comp picks. Jimmy Kempski is one such person, and you can review his work and methodology HERE. Over the Cap has taken a stab at it as well.
The NFL will hold its annual March league meetings in a week and a half, and they will announce the 2015 comp picks. The 49ers are expected to get a fourth round pick for Donte Whitner. Colt McCoy would provide for a seventh round pick, but according to Over The Cap, his value is low enough that it falls below the maximum number of overall comp picks allowed. We'll find out in a week and a half whether or not the 49ers get that second comp pick.
The 49ers have not done a ton in free agency, but there is still plenty to report from a comp pick perspective. Here is a look at the 49ers gains and losses to date:
Torrey Smith: 5 years, $40 million, $22M "guaranteed" (only $8.75M is fully guaranteed)
Mike Iupati: 5 years, $40 million ($1M in incentives), $22.5M guaranteed
Frank Gore: 3 years, $12 million, $6.5M guaranteed (tied partially to roster bonuses)
Dan Skuta: 5 years, $20.5 million, report of $8M guaranteed
Chris Culliver: 4 years, $32 million, $16M fully guaranteed
According to the various people who assess comp picks, the primary factor in awarding comp picks is average annual value of the player's contract. There is an adjustment for playing time, and then a smaller adjustment for postseason honors. As such, we are rooting for big years for departed 49ers free agents!
Based on the above, the Torrey Smith signing would be offset by either Mike Iupati or Chris Culliver. They all hold what appears to be the same average annual value. It could vary depending on how the three free agents perform this coming season. That leaves the 49ers right now with comp picks for Gore Skuta and either Iupati or Culliver. The 49ers signed Darnell Dockett and Jerome Simpson, but both had been released prior to free agency, and thus do not count against the formula. If the team ends up signing Reggie Bush, he too will not count because he was released before free agency began. On the other side, Stevie Johnson would not count as a loss because the 49ers released him.
Over The Cap has begun the process of projecting 2016 comp picks on the far right side of this page. They have not updated for the recent Cully news. For now they have the 49ers getting a pair of sixth round picks for Dan Skuta and Frank Gore. Whether Iupati or Culliver is the third comp pick, they would have the 49ers getting a 4th round pick.
Moving forward, the 49ers two most notable remaining free agents are Perrish Cox and Michael Crabtree. Cox has made a few visits, while Crabtree has been connected to nobody. Cox is likely to net a sixth or seventh round comp pick, while Crabtree could be looking at a one-year prove it deal which would not net a comp pick (assuming he does not return to the 49ers).